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 Digs: New Langstrothdale sumps

Member Newsjoshuatree writes "
New sumps in Langstrothdale.

Herculean efforts by White Rose diggers, particularly Chris and John, have opened up new passages above Langstroth Pot, in the form of Compass Pot and Hagg Beck Sink, both of which open up after desperately tight entrance passages and then end in sumps.

After getting to the end of these in late 2008, I resolved to check out the sumps in the long dry summer of 2009 (in my dreams).

With Compass being too tight for a safe dive, I reckoned pumping might be in order and with no obvious place for the water, I decided to take a half-ton dumpy bag as a reservoir, with polythene sheeting for a liner.  Together with Steve’s pump and hoses, this lot was dragged in with help from Chris, John and Simon over a couple of days and I attempted to shift some water.  Unfortunately, the passage is so constricted here that I couldn’t move the pump handle and had to give up after a frustrating hour of lying flat-out in the sump.

The bag was left behind and I will give it another go with a modified handle in a dry spell to see if the level does drop to allow a duck through.

The tortuous Grade V caving of Hagg Beck Sink is not the most tempting of diving carries and with only John available to help with the job it took 2 trips in with the gear.   Unfortunately I lost a lot of air from the single 3 l cylinder I was using for this exploratory dive when I bashed the tap as I pushed it along the gnarly crawl.  The noise of the releasing gas certainly gave John a bit of a shock as he forged on ahead!

At this point I must make note of the fact that there are only 2 people who should not complain about the dimensions of this cave.  Their initials are CS and JC – they made it!

On the second trip in with my semi-dry in a bag, I made the change beside the sump and got kitted up, complete with the line reel we had fashioned from bits of junk from John’s van, loaded with 30 m of 5 mm hawser.

I was hoping for clear water, but the pool was cloudy and my hopes of a Sleets Gill-type sump were soon dashed, finding the wall to be solid close to the entry point.  A final look around the far side of the pool found me dropping down and down to about 5 m depth, such that John couldn’t see my lights, although I could make out a tantalising dark continuation ahead.

Rising to check my air, I found that there was no safe margin left and I had a chilly change back into my normal wetsuit for the trip out.  Again, a dry spell would be a bonus, but the potential is there for sure and I’ll be back. 

Thanks to Chris and John in particular for all their efforts in this area.


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